Medieval studies (reliefs from the east side of the Campanile, Florence Cathedral)

When Giotto died in 1337, Andrea Pisano became capomaestro for the unfinished Campanile (bell tower) beside the Florence Cathedral. Andrea and his workshop produced a comprehensive program of over fifty marble relief sculptures divided into two registers around the building's four exterior walls. Hexagon-shaped panels carved from marble decorated the lower register, while the upper register displayed diamond-shaped marble panels complete with a blue maiolica background, some of which are shown here. These reliefs come from the east wall and depict common medieval studies: Astronomy, Music, Geometry, Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, and Arithmetic. Each scene merges traditional Gothic elements (geometric shapes, stiff drapery) with classicism (naturalistic bodies and postures), similar to the panels originally placed below them depicting scenes of the human trades. Scholars believe that Andrea's use of ceramic and a blue and white colour scheme was a source of inspiration for Luca della Robbia, who used this aesthetic with his pioneering technique of glazed terracotta in the fifteenth century. However, unlike the della Robbia's, who used a cobalt-oxide based blue to achieve a multitude of tones, Andrea probably used here a copper-sulfate to achieve a single saturated blue. Today, Andrea's reliefs are displayed at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and arranged in the order in which they were once displayed. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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